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The Various Sonic Guises of Dirk Serries

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You first knew Dirk Serries as vidnaObmana when he pioneered a darker form of ambient soundscapes in the last century. Retiring that persona, Serries has moved on to creating haunting music as Fear Falls Burning, utilizing heavily processed guitars. Then he decided to use his own name for a series of releases called Microphonics and some collaborative projects.

Scroll on to read reviews of some of the releases by this talented multi-monikered musician...

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STEVE ROACH & VIDNAOBMANA: Spirit Dome--Live Archive (double CD on Projekt)

This release from 2009 (a combined reissue of two releases from bygone years) offers a grand total of 140 minutes of classic ambience.

Spirit Dome (73 minutes):

The music on this disc was performed live in a hotel room prior to ProjektFest in Philadelphia in May of 2002.

Ephemeral textures emerge from a watery foundation to hang in stately form in the listener's mind, turning and unfurling with eloquent disposition. Sighing tonalities gradually part to reveal haunting atmospherics peppered with shakers and sedately pattering percussives of a remote nature. Flutish strains embellish this nether realm with their feathery presence, hinting at shamanistic rituals from antediluvian epochs. Synthetic surfs wash over these delicate structures, drenching the air with a spectral shimmering. A sense of impending consequence tingles in the tenuous flux as the textures grow denser and more dramatic. The spirits are gathering.

Amid these cloud-like formations of sound, subtle sounds rise that are different from the artists' signature styles: whistles and bloops of a decidedly mechanistic quality, enhancing the eerie drift with their harsh mien, fusing modern sensibilities with this otherwise ancient mood. The result is spooky but unthreatening, inspiring faith in the ethereal forces that surround our daily lives.

The introduction to the flow of grinding insectoid noises achieves a holistic unification of man and nature. The air becomes aflutter with ascendant activity, carrying the mood to lofty heights where an impression of limitless perspective is easily accessible. An elegant grandeur overwhelms the ambient demeanor, thrilling the soul with the promise of colossal revelations. Rhythms of infinite scope, deftly executed with placid restraint, enter the dome to announce the expedience of this timeless wisdom. Dark and light forces combine, fulfilling an epic unity that is the spirits' ultimate message. Having revealed their intuitions of totality, the specters recede from detection.

Live Archive (67 minutes):

This disc features selections from the duo's concerts in Italy, the Netherlands, and the USA from the late Nineties, offering a superb dose of ethereal ambience riddled with acoustic atmospherics and environmental airs.

In addition to analog and digital synthesizers and samplers, various acoustic and ethnic percussives are employed in this music, along with classical and primitive woodwinds, and live processed voices. Also utilized are such curiosities as: hybrid grooves, primordial magma, and brain rattle.

These live performances exemplify manifold ambience. Deep drones mix with breathy atmospheres in an aerial spiral of languid auralscapes. Echoing aspects of nature blend with eerie electronics. Haunting evocations of misty realms are drenched in vaporous ghost-fire. Unperceived conversations are chronicled between stones of ancient origin.

Some of these sublime performances evolve rhythmic qualities, reminiscent of tribal ceremonies located just over the next hill. While other tracks display more delicate attributes, with textural dreampipes and processed flutes. Regardless of their rarefied substance, without fail this ethereal music creeps from a quiet whisper to voluminous inflation.

The disc's final track, "Divine Innermission", blends performance elements and studio recordings for a sublime 12 minutes of aerial waves, intricate rhythmics, and the gentle throb of a fretless bass.

Unified at last, this pair of classic recordings is a delight for fans of minimal sonic power.

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FEAR FALLS BURNING: The Carnival of Ourselves (CD on Tonefloat Records)

This 2009 CD is a reissue of a vinyl album from 2006 (with bonus material) and offers 67 minutes of eerie music.

Fear Falls Burning is a current guise of vidnaObmana. Here, he experiments with processed guitar.

Sparse notes are elongated into vibrating pulsations that hang like ponderous insects in a mix of moody tonalities. As things progress, auxiliary guitar manipulations enter to be contorted into luscious textures, often seasoned by the shrill squeal of guitar strings being scraped into metallic resonance. At other times, nimble-fingered chords are generated, then looped into dreamy tapestries.

While some of the sounds are recognizably generated by guitar, many of the expressions are transformed into sonic creatures that defy identification. These treatments establish haunting layers, cloudlike in their rarefied density yet impenetrable enough to block sunlight, casting mesmerizing shadows across a barren landscape.

These guitar treatments share the stage with atmospheric tones which darken the mix with their gloomy inflection, generating a nocturnal mood rich with spooky allusions.

The style of this music blends experimentation with an expert grasp of hazy soundscapes, resulting in mystical (almost gothic) tuneage designed to sedate the forebrain as it agitates the subconscious.

Track three (the 28 minute bonus piece) was recorded at the Audio-Unit Living Room Concert in Hamburg Germany on May 16, 2006. Here, tension is established with expansive threads that glisten with molten power, as slightly piercing sustains twist in a sedate breeze. The subtle interplay of these tenuous aspects creates a pastiche that seethes with edgy vitality while retaining a contemplative demeanor.

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FEAR FALLS BURNING: I'm One of Those Monsters Numb with Grace (CD on Tonefloat Records)

This 2009 CD is a reissue of a vinyl album from 2006 (with bonus material) and offers 74 minutes of moody music.

Imagine guitar experimentation from the dark side, evoking sentiments from a drowned cathedral. With this release, those experimentations go to the extreme, divorcing themselves from any recognition as having come from a guitar.

For track 1: guitar chords are generated, deeply guttural and growling with subterranean power. While the notes are repeated, creating a desperate cycle of shuddering metal spines, textures of haunting demeanor coalesce as a nocturnal backdrop. Rising from the mists of this backdrop are auxiliary tonalities, each derived from treatments of the main guitar chord and flavoring the gestalt with even eerier atmospherics. As the piece progresses, the apparent constancy slowly grows darker, more dire as the atmospherics accrete stronger substantiality until they stand nearly at equal volume with the tune's guitar nucleus and ultimately replace that core with their own resonance.

For track 2, the guitar adopts a swaying sustain that starts out soft and muted, but gradually becomes peppered by additional notes that penetrate from the sidelines not unlike needles cunningly slid into the mix. These needles commence vibrating, swelling to rival the central tones in verve. Again, a backdrop of ethereal density unfurls to tenuously support the gracefully intertwining guitar effects. Before long, the guitar treatments have mutated into a fusion of fresh homeopathy that pulsates with almost divine proportion. These new-born threads begin to separate, dividing into a chorus of grinding effects that become swept away in an emergence of piercing tones that sneakily rise to tranquil domination.

Track three (the bonus piece) is an epic 34 minute studio recording from 2006. Dense chords crash through a barrier of swaying tenuous tones. As crystalline notes emerge from those tones and squirm through processed variations, the growling guitar chords continue to meter time with their ominous presence. Slowly, the sustained chords evolve into pliant harmonies, bending and contorting to form fresh sonic expressions that eventually become the background for new lead convulsions. An overall pulsation is accomplished, one whose integral effects are tuned to warp the psychic realm, muting emotional dissent with their pervasive drone.

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DIRK SERRIES: Microphonics I-IV (vinyl album on Tonefloat Records)

This 2008 release offers 45 minutes of fragile soundscapes.

While this music was never intended for release, functioning more for Serries as a means for rehearsing and developing ideas, he later realized that these pieces reveal his compositional process in a pristine manner. These aspects as readily evident to listeners, exposing his Fear Falls Burning tuneage in pure models that are quite capable of standing alone.

Basically: soothing guitar experimentations coexist with background tonalities, achieving a dreamy resonance whose beauty is undeniable.

First the guitars are processed and looped to produce luscious sustains that undulate like furry serpents. By layering these treated chords, an interweaving tapestry of delicate sound is actualized.

Superimposing these writhing tendrils of sound over auxiliary tonalities results in a depth that magnifies their initial elegance. The air is transformed into a glutinous ambrosia which serves as an aerial stage for the serene majesty generated by the swaying guitar treatments.

The simplicity of this music literally exposes the melodies' soul, revealing in great intimacy new depths derived from the sparse sonics. As each chord undergoes shifting currents, the fundamental harmonic unfolds without apparent expansion.

This album comes pressed onto 180gms of sturdy vinyl and in a gatefold sleeve.

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THE EIGHTFOLD MODEL: The Eightfold Model (vinyl album on Tonefloat Records)

This 2008 release features 42 minutes of ephemeral soundscapes.

The Eightfold Model is a unique collaboration between Dirk Serries (formerly known as vidnaObmana) and (operating under the alias kptmichigan) Michael Beckett (from Schneider TM). Serries plays electric guitars, loop and processing devices. Beckett plays harmonium, field recordings, and processing devices.

Minimal tonalities blend with environmental recordings while treated guitar provides ethereal embellishment.

The tones are basically sparse and often spectral in their evocation. Wafting on languid breezes, these ephemeral sounds establish haunting soundscapes with minimal harmonics interfacing to generate equally tenuous melodies. The addition of harmonium escalates this vaporous flair with sustained chords crafted at the edge of perception.

One might expect the field recordings to introduce an earthly quality to this music, but the result of their presence in the mix is frequently the opposite, enhancing a detachment from familiar elements and fostering an alienation from humanity and any mortal concerns. This separation from conventional parameters creates a bewitching mood that is as captivating as it is bewildering.

The guitars wander through these fields of sedate noise, conjuring a melancholic air that tickles subconscious synapses with their elusive influences. The actual sounds generated by the guitars are distinctly un-guitar-like, achieving a celestial disposition through heavy treatments that transform prosaic notes into alien sounds rich with a vibrant eeriness.

These compositions succeed in removing the listener from their corporeal vantage and plunging them into a realm of strange harmonics which stimulate spiritual expansion. The minimal definition of aspects serves to hone perception as the audience strains to detect each subtle nuance. This concentration propagates cerebral interaction with the music, forcing the listener to attach meaning and details to elements that normally defy codification.

This album comes pressed onto 180gms of sturdy vinyl and in a gatefold sleeve featuring the abstract art of Ilan Katin.

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3 SECONDS OF AIR: The Flight of Song (CD on Tonefloat Records)

This 2009 release offers 74 minutes of leisurely soundscapes.

3 Seconds of Air is: Paul van der Berg (on guitars and effects). Martina Verhoeven (on bass and effects), and Dirk Serries (on guitars and effects).

Processed guitars combine with bass intonations to produce vaporous structures of sound designed to evoke moody nights inside an abandoned chapel.

Some notes are discernible as originating from a guitar, but the majority of sounds are highly treated, elongated and transformed into luxurious textures of fragile definition. Each note drifts like a feather on a blessed breeze, the course it takes through the air establishing a dreamy tonal flow. The different notes interweave while airborne, generating sinuous chords that aggrandize the compound flow into a rich sequence of ambient harmonics.

The presence of the bass lends a pensive edge to this delicate aural lattice, providing an elusive foundation for the aerial sonic stream. Imagine certain gases achieving a higher density as they intermingle with the more rarefied molecules, creating a gentle ballet of swirling particles, each embodying a harmonic expression.

Filling the void between sounds are ethereal tonalities, undoubtedly generated on guitar and transformed into ambience by processing. These background aspects establish a heavenly panorama for the main chords, a ghostly stage for the languid posturing of ephemeral sound sprites.

These pieces undergo stately progression, gradually accumulating a subtle puissance until reaching a level of mild intensity crafted to stimulate the subconscious.

The compositions are extreme examples of ambient auralscapes, adroitly designed to sedate the forebrain while invigorating the backbrain. The music's relaxed pace enhances the moderate influence communicated by each soothing piece.

A limited edition vinyl version of this release exists which includes two tracks not on the CD: an additional composition, and a reconstruction by Steven Wilson (from Porcupine Tree).

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